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Christmas tree: The return of a long forgotten tradition

Besides Nyandarua, Kisii, Nakuru and Uasin Gishu county bosses have held tree-lighting ceremonies in the past few days.

Nyandarua Governor Daniel Waithaka’s Christmas tree may have grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons, but it signalled a silent return of a once-fading tradition.

A couple of years ago, one of the items that would be on Kenyans’ lips at a time like this was the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, which involved mayors in urban areas across the country lighting Christmas trees as a precursor to a number of activities to raise money for charity and sporting activities.

With the onset of devolution, the mayor’s post was abolished and governors took over. Some governors are now attempting to relive the mayors’ traditions by holding Christmas tree lighting events.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae held the event on Thursday alongside his deputy Joash Maangi and other county officials. One of the objectives of the day was to celebrate with the less fortunate. Governor Ongwae also lit up a Christmas tree in 2015.

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno similarly presided over a tree-lighting ceremony on Tuesday where he praised county staff who were retiring.

Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua also lit a Christmas tree on December 13. Three days later, he hosted the county’s workers that number more than 5,000.

The tree that Governor Waithaka lit up drew controversy as rumours flew that he had spent Sh2 million on it. He later clarified that it had cost Sh16,000 and that it was from a donor. Mr Waithaka said his government spent an additional Sh12,000 to spruce up the area used in putting up the tree, bringing the total cost to about Sh30,000.

It is not just governors, however, who have heightened the festive mood. Across the country, Christmas welcomes a host of cultural and communal activities.

CULTURAL CELEBRATIONS

In Vihiga, for instance, Sunday signals the start of cultural celebrations in the Maragoli community.

Hundreds of Maragoli boys who were circumcised in August and early this month will be given an age-set name tomorrow during the 36th cultural celebrations to be held in Mbale.

The initiates, their relatives, elders, residents, political and religious leaders are expected to attend the cultural-cum-rite of passage ceremony that elders say will attract hundreds of people compared to previous years.

The large numbers of people expected at the event has forced the elders to move the celebrations from the traditional municipal grounds in Mbale to another open field adjacent to Mbale High School.

The chairman of Vihiga Culture Society, Mr Bernard Chahilu, said it will be a “special and rare event” that will focus on the male rite of passage – circumcision – that comes once in eight years.

In Kakamega, there will be bullfight contests and a cultural festival.

The Butsotso cultural festivities, set for December 31, will be one of the key events expected to attract politicians from western region. 

PROMINENT POLITICIANS

Invitations have been sent out to prominent politicians and personalities including Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Senator Boni Khalwale and MPs. 

Last year, Deputy President William Ruto was the chief guest at the festivities, held at Ematia market in Navakholo constituency. 

This year’s cultural festivities will be held at the Esumeiya Primary School in Butsotso West.

Already, preparations for the festivals are going on in the 12 sub-counties of Kakamega. “We have lined up several activities including bullfighting contests and traditional dances. There will be an exhibition of traditional tools and gear used by warriors from the community during battles with enemies,” said Mr Isaac Amakobe, the organising committee chairman.

Other events scheduled for Sunday include an offering distribution exercise organised by Mombasa County Department of Education and Children and the International Christian Centre.

The County Executive in charge of Education and Department of Children Tendai Lewa said more than 1,000 people will be treated to drinks, food and entertainment to mark the birth of Jesus. “This will be a sign to the disadvantaged that we are one in Christ and that they are part of society,” Mr Lewa told the Nation.

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